Have you ever attended a conference where you felt numb from sitting too long? Began to nod off or daydream? As the blood begins to pool in your feet and legs, your ability to concentrate and process is diminished. Studies show that movement and exercise can disrupt this and cause an increase in the rate of learning (Ratey, 2008).
When we are moving, dopamine is released in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter known for several super-charged properties. It increases attention, pleasure, motivation and perseverance. Imagine a room filled with people who are experiencing these benefits! If your goal is to increase learning and retention of information, experts agree - include multisensory activities in your course (ATD, 2017).
Worried about movement becoming chaotic? Even simple, tactile movements will yield better learner engagement. Ask audience members to snap their fingers or wave both of their arms in the air if they like an idea. As you become more comfortable, take a risk and try more active, kinesthetic strategies. Gallery walks or board brainstorming relays can be used to reinforce any new content. Avoid chaos by adding structure. Use a visual timer and announce time frames and provide clear directions on a slide. Modeling desired movements will decrease learner anxiety and ensure more accurate execution. If participants will be moving around the room, be sure that aisles are clear and ask participants to tuck items under tables.
Concerned that adults will think movement is a waste of time? Share the research so that everyone understands your purpose. Most participants will follow your lead and be glad for the chance to move.
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Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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